How to Choose a Record Player: What to Look for
Buying records is easy – it’s the buying a decent record player to play them on that’s the hard part. On top of the already wide selection of vintage – though still practical – record players that are on the market and that are still as popular as ever, there has also been a large number of contemporary record players released by major electronics companies. These brands have cashed in on the meteoric return of vinyl record collecting in recent years.
These contemporary record players may look like vintage ones, but they boast all kinds of new technologies, such as Bluetooth adaptability and USB connectivity. With all of these additional features, first-time buyers of record players may find the process of choosing one a bit complicated, so we’re here to help. Read on for our handy how-to guide on what exactly to look out for when buying a record player.
Of course, when you buy anything, price is always an important factor in the decision-making process, and when it comes to purchasing a record player, it is one of the main things to look out for. This is mainly due to the fact that first-time buyers can be very easily deceived by gimmicky record players that are just not up to par.
Take suitcase record players as an example. Some of the leading budget record players, from the likes of Crosley or Denver, will deceive first-time buyers with gimmicks like easy portability (more on this later) or how the player looks aesthetically. Players such as this, although often sold at an attractive price of $50-$100, should be avoided because they tend to lack in both sound and overall performance quality. They may even prove to damage your records.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a budget player that also performs well, the minimum you’ll be looking to spend is at least $100. When buying, try to avoid products that push too hard on the benefits of additional features, such as portability or how ‘retro’ the player looks.
Record collecting can be an expensive hobby, especially when buying older records and rarities, but it’s worth it to experience listening to your favorite music in the best possible way with the highest quality sound. Given that, you’re going to want to look for a record player that provides the most optimal sound performance to ensure that your listening experience is as pleasurable as possible.
Good sound quality can often be determined by the parts that make up the record player. Firstly, the needle of the player is of the utmost importance, as it picks up the sound from the record. There’s no point in having a top-quality record player if the needle features an arm that is made of flimsy plastic, as it will seriously hamper the overall sound quality.
When considering needles, primarily look for ones made of titanium or aluminum. This will give the needle enough strength to pick up every minuscule bump on the vinyl record.
Other parts of the record player to consider is the platter, which is best if it’s made out of acrylic, and the casing, which benefits the sound best when it is made out of wood.
Portability and Wireless Capabilities
We’ve already mentioned that you should look out for budget record players offering ‘portability’. However, this is not to be confused with record players that offer ‘wireless’ capabilities. ‘Portable’ players are, often, not entirely portable. They may be easily carried around like a suitcase, however, models such as the Crosley still require a power source to work.
‘Wireless’ record players, on the other hand, are often battery-powered or can be charged before using. This means they can be carried around and played outside without the constraints of needing to be plugged in.
These terms can often confuse first-time buyers, so please be wary of ‘portable’ players, while keeping an eye out for ‘wireless’.
Automatic or Manual?
When buying record players, you may come across the terms ‘manual’ and ‘automatic’ in the descriptions. ‘Manual’ record players, which often tend to be cheaper or older models, simply mean that you are required to drag the needle across and fit it on the groove yourself.
‘Automatic’ record players do this bit for you. ‘Automatic’ record players are definitely what we’d recommend to first-time record player buyers, as it minimizes the risk of damaging your records. With ‘manual’ record players, it is very easy to accidentally drop and scratch your records. It also takes away the stress of trying to find the beginning of the grove without skipping the intro of your favorite song.
Other Features To Look Out For
Particularly with contemporary record players, there are a bunch of additional features that are worth looking out for, as they can generally improve your overall vinyl record enjoyment.
One feature to look for would be USB connectivity. This is a handy means of converting all of your valuable records – some of which may not yet available on streaming platforms – into handy mp3 copies for your computer, ensuring that you have a copy of the song saved forever.
Bluetooth is another popular feature to look out for and comes with many modern-day record players. However, there are two different types of Bluetooth features available. Bluetooth-in allows you to connect and play music from your phone or tablet through the record player’s speakers. Bluetooth-out, on the other hand, allows the record player to pair with Bluetooth speakers, which is handy if you require the extra volume.
Having read the information above in our “How to Choose a Record Player: What to Look for” guide, you are now ready to start looking into the wide array of record players on the market. Select one that is built to your needs and that has all your required features. Record collecting is fun, but it’s easy to be deceived by cheap prices and gimmicky features – don’t fall for any of the first-time buyer traps!
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